Our little town only offers half-day kindergarten, and with my husband, my mom, and I working full-time, it doesn't make sense to put Lewie into a 2.5 hour kindergarten program and then a non-enriching after care program for 4 hours! Plus, it doesn't seem fair that children in surrounding towns will be benefiting from a full-day curriculum. (Won't my son get behind?)
So, I made a decision early on that we would place my son in a private, full-day kindergarten, so he would benefit from a full-day curriculum while having plenty of activities and experiences to keep him entertained during the day. The only problem, however, is the price tag...
The cheapest program we've found is $1000 per month or $10,000 for 10 months. They go up from there with some costing $22,000 for 10 months!! OUCH!
As it turns out, visiting kindergarten programs are not much different from visiting colleges. We either set-up a school tour or go to an "open house," and we get all sorts of pamplets and literature about the curriculum, the classes, the tuition, and even the financial aid. (By the way, these schools are only generous with families that have more than one kid.)
Over a month ago, we visited our second private kindergarten called Alphabet Academy. Here they're known for this amazing garden where they grow seasonal fruits and vegetables all year round and then create culinary masterpieces in their kitchen. That's right...there's no packing lunches or snacks here; instead, all children and teachers are given the same food to eat--a certified home made, locally grown meal without growth hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides.
Some other interesting features of this kindergarten is their Yoga program, their art classes (that only use recycled materials), and their very elaborate activities including Obstacle Olympics, map making, Venn diagrams, etc. etc.
A second school we just visited last week boasts about its outside Nature's Classroom (yes, lots of classes are conducted outside), and its foreign language curriculum in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese!
At first, I was a little swept away by the hype. Of course my son needs to go to a kindergarten with a professional chef to feed him daily.
Then I gave myself a reality check. I don't even have the time to prepare fresh, wholesome, organic meals. Even more, my son will be going to public school in first grade--home to chicken nuggets and Ellio's pizza. Won't this school make adapting to public school even that much harder?
Call me old fashioned, but at the end of the day, I just want my son to have a kind, supportive kindergarten teacher that will help him with his reading, writing, and math skills and then give him a chance to play. He doesn't need to learn Mandarin Chinese--send him outside to get some fresh air, sun, and a chance to play on the swings or get dirty in a sandbox.
I'm not preparing my five year-old son to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company; I just want my five year-old to learn, play, and have a chance to socialize with other kids.
So, right now I'm in a quandary. Where will he go to kindergarten? How much money will be spending? Will he enjoy his new school? And, will his new school still allow him to be a kid? There are a few more open houses on the horizon...
Please keep your fingers crossed for us.